Vegetarian and vegan

Thank you for doing more vegetarian options and having vegan food more often this term, it is really appreciated! Also I thought the (vegetarian)  formal menus for this term were particularly yummy  and would love to see some of them again especially the gnocchi. And thank you to the garden restaurant staff especially the breakfast staff for being so friendly :)  

CatMan Comment Thanks for the mail. And thank you very much for the feedback.

Salad Bar

Thank you for the updated salad bar! The past few weeks have had a wide range of options. It's nice to have a variety of vegetables/mixed salads/nuts/pasta/couscous,... Would it be possible to have more "pre mixed" salad options per meal. For example there was a feta/olive combination salad one lunch and some roasted vegetables another.

CatMan Comment Thanks for the mail. I'm very pleased that you are appreciating our new style salad bar. We will definitely take your comment onboard.

Vegan and vegetarian Dishes

This term there has been an increase in the number of vegan and vegetarian dishes in the Garden restaurant which has been much appreciated. Also many vegan wraps/sandwiches in the cafe which is wonderful, however not many desserts. Last term, there was a vegan coconut flapjack but i have not seen it much this term, can we have more vegan desserts?

CatMan Comment Thanks for the mail. I'm glad you like the variety of food on offer. Our pastry chefs will make sure they prepare more vegan desserts.

Curly fries

I love the food! It really is excellent! But where have the curly fries gone? Could we have some at dinner again soon please?

CatMan Comment Thanks for the mail. I'm glad you like the food on offer. Curly fries are available 2 or 3 times a week at lunch time or dinner. 

Sweet potato fries

Can we have more sweet potato fries on offer in the Garden Restaurant? They're delicious, healthier than regular fries, and very popular at the moment!

CatMan Comment Thanks for the mail. I'm glad you like the sweet potato fries but actually you are in the minority.  The majority don't appreciate them and unfortunately, given the significantly higher cost, we can't afford to offer items that are not that popular and therefore prone to waste.  Sorry.

Online Menu

The online menu (http://www.robinson.cam.ac.uk/college-life/garden-restaurant-menu) is incredibly useful - thank you for this service. However, lately I have noticed that the online menu for a day is only being uploaded that same morning. In my first year there were often 5+ days worth of menus available at any time. As I have allergies I plan my meals around the online Garden Restaurant menu and so some forewarning is very useful. (I've also had occasions where the menu has changed after being published for a day or two.) Would it be possible to upload menus a few days in advance so that those with dietary requirements can plan around them?

CatMan Comment Thanks for your mail.  We do normally upload menus a day in advance which is all that the system allows - it has only ever been possible to show menus for today, yesterday and tomorrow.  Strive though we do to get the plan right, things do change from time to time so I'm afraid that whilst the online menu will be accurate more often than not, sometimes we do end up having to offer alternatives if an item has been especially popular.  With regard to helping you plan ahead for allergy management and/or any other reason, there is a six week cycle of menus which we follow and you are welcome to have a copy if that would help.  Please feel free to ask.

Vegan Soups

I think it would be great if you could indicate on the menu whether your soups are vegan or not.

Also, I love your vegan options and how they seem to be more frequently available recently!

Head Chef Comment All our soups are suitable for vegans apart from broccoli and blue cheese or cauliflower cheese soups which we serve occasionally.

Website Prices

I've noticed that the prices listed on the online menu don't seem to match with what I pay in the garden restaurant. I think this is just that they are outdated - for example you have the meal deal listed as £4, where I know it should be £4.20.

One other (related) thing - it would be helpful if there was a list of prices by the tills, especially the one where you pay cash. As I have paid cash for my meals quite a few times this term, I have noticed that I don't really know how much I will be charged before I'm asked for the money - this might be a way to help speed up the process.

CatWoman Comment Thank you for spotting this, it had been missed when prices were amended in the Summer, we have now rectified it, sorry if it caused confusion.

Milk Alternatives

I was wondering if you might consider buying a small amount of milk alternatives for the canteen for breakfast.  I, like many other people, can’t eat dairy (I have an allergy, but most are lactose intolerant). While I understand we are the minority in college, and you provide dairy free main meal options always, it would be nice to have the option for cereals in the morning? Almond milk, rice milk and soy milk all are suitable for lactose intolerant people, those with allergies like me, and vegans. It also typically last much longer than regular milk, around 7-10 days, so you would not need to buy gallons for the (i understand) very small amount of people who both go to breakfast AND are lactose intolerant!

Head Chef Comment We have soya milk in stock all the time. I will ensure there is some available in the Garden Restaurant fridge from tomorrow. We do use almond milk in conference time but if you want I could supply this at the beginning of the Easter term and I will obviously monitor the usage?

Portion Sizes and Super Halls

I think they're smaller these days. :( Less meat, veg and potatoes all round. I remember they were bigger in my first year. Sorry, I just have a large appetite!

Also have you ever done 'super-formal halls' before? Quite a few colleges do these once or twice a term where you'd get another course (eg cheese) and even fancier food?

Head Chef Comment Thank you for your comments. Whilst I appreciate that everyone's appetite is different, generally all meat/poultry/vegetarian is correctly portioned and I am happy with the controls in place.  However, Sarah Harold our food service manager, has instructed her staff to give a little extra chips/vegetables to any customer who asks for it, so this is what I suggest you do.

As for 'Super halls', I remember we used to do them many years ago but  the general feeling when we have met with student committees is that our formal halls are equivalent to or better than super halls in other College's. 

Chunky Chips

Just wanted to commend the chunkier chips on offer on Wednesday evening. It would be great to see these on offer more regularly, I suspect they are much healthier too.

CatMan Comment Thanks, glad you like them.

Range of paninis in the cafe

I'm writing in co-ordination with some other students to suggest a few changes to the range of food on offer in the cafe. For me in particular, the problem lies in the range of vegetarian friendly paninis. Last year I used to have the paninis on a fairly regular basis, but having turned vegetarian at the start of the year I haven't had one since. This is mainly because the vegetarian paninis are fairly uninspiring, usually consisting of just cheese and maybe one other ingredient. The situation is slightly better with the sandwiches and wraps, but I still find myself often with only one option. With reference particularly to the paninis, it might be slightly more exciting to see some meat equivalent ingredients on the menu on a more regular basis (like quorn or tofu) as opposed to cheese being the primary ingredient, as these are not only a bit boring but not particularly nutritious. I hope this is constructive feedback.

CatMan Comment Thanks for your mail and comments.  I'll talk to the rest of the team and see what we can come up with.

Pork Madras

I was really disappointed in the madras today. I, and others, found it very fatty and hence not very nice.

Head Chef comment Thank you for your comments about the pork madras. I have now had an opportunity to try some this morning and as far as I can see it is okay, with very little fat in the pork. I apologise if you may have had more than normal but I will address this issue with my butcher regardless.

Mash potato

Would be awesome if you could keep up serving mash potato (instead of chips vs. fried potato option

CatMan Comment I agree - much nicer with the right dish and it is certainly healtier.  The problem is that that isn't what the majority want and every time we take chips off the menu, I get howls of protest!

Suggestion

Whenever I go to the garden restaurant. Unless I go for say spag-bol, if I go for a meal such as today's chicken with aoli there are no carbohydrates. Hence if I want one I have to go for potato of which it is always roast potato vs chips. Neither of which are healthy. Would it not be possible to have pasta/rice or similar as an alternative.

Head Chef Comment I agree with your suggestion of rice/pasta as an alternative to potatoes or chips. We have tried on occasions to alternate this but it has not been proved to be very popular. However I am in the process of developing the lent garden restaurant menus for next term so I shall look at the dishes we produce and change some of the potato options with rice/pasta. In addition you can always ask the food service team if for instance if pasta/rice is on the menu for a vegetarian or other dish and have that it as option. The food service team are aware that is a possibility.

Themed evenings in the Garden Restaurant

Sorry for a bit of a strange request, but I was wondering why this year students are no longer receiving catering e-mails? I live in one of the houses and cook dinner for myself there normally, but I always really enjoy the themed evenings in the canteen and make a point of attending them. Having those e-mails last year was a good way of finding out about them, and my friends and I have been a little confused recently by seeing themed evenings advertised (Indian a couple of weeks ago and Italian yesterday) online or as posters stuck with the other menus outside the canteen, but when it comes to the day in question it no longer seems to be happening! I mainly want to register my enthusiasm for the special events done in the canteen, as the food is always good and they are also really good value. I really enjoyed the Greek evening held earlier this term, and look forward to more in the future.

CatMan Comment Thanks for your mail and I must offer my personal apologies for not sending out the regular email notices each week.  I’m afraid I simply stopped doing this mainly because I got the sense that for the majority of Robinson members, they were regarded as spam.  Your email has encouraged me and I will resume at the start of the Lent term.  As to late cancellation of themed events, this may have been for a variety of reasons and would be an unusual occurrence.  It is certainly not related to the missing emails.  Nevertheless, whatever the reason, our apologies are due as well for any disappointment or inconvenience caused.  Thanks for your feedback which I will share with the team

Option variety

Today at dinner the options were all excellent: gammon and egg, BBQ lamb, lasagne and a fine quiche. Why are all the options great on some days and all the less good options pooled together on others?

CatMan Comment  Thanks fro your mail and I'm pleased that you enjoyed.  As to all the good/less good options being pooled together, I guess that's a matter of taste....

Breakfast

I really enjoy the cooked breakfast and brunch in the restaurant but have been slightly dissatisfied with the lack of black pudding. I was wondering whether there was a possibility this could be added to the selection at some point in the future.

CatMan Comment Thanks for your feedback.  We do include black pudding from time to time but not as a regular feature because, unlike you, the majority don't seem to appreciate it - the result being significant wastage.  I'm sure you will see this make a welcome presence soon enough.

Leeks

Just wanted to say I had the leeks today and they were undercooked and got to say they were quite tough and not enjoyable.  On a positive note, the cranberry sauce was a nice touch!

Head Chef Comment Many thanks for your comments. I am sorry that the leeks were not cooked enough. I have spoken to the chefs on duty and I can assure you this will not happen again.

Toast

I very much enjoyed the whole-grain toast on offer today for brunch.Just thought I would say, please keep the whole-grain coming!

CatMan Comment  Thanks for the mail and glad you enjoyed.  Whole-grain is a difficult issue as you realise because not enough people do actually enjoy it so we end up wasting a lot.  Let's hope your colleagues feel encouraged to eat more healthily so we can feature this more often.

Mars Ice Cream

The Garden Restaurant has kept me well fed for the last two and a half years of my life. For that, I thank you and your team very much.  However, this term, with the pleasant weather and the stresses of exams, I have been disappointed in one significant regard. The lack of Mars Bar ice creams. In previous years they have been on offer most of the time, however selling out fairly often due to what I presume is very high demand. This is because they are fantastically tasty and an apt reward for a hard day in the library.  The current selection of frozen-bar ice creams so far this term has consisted only of Snickers Ice Creams. Now I'm not one to complain about any one particular offering of the Garden Restaurant, I know that it has a large selection of people to appeal to, however Snickers Ice Creams are, simply, nowhere near as good. Furthermore, they contain nuts, which to the mildly allergic makes them completely out of bounds, not a problem for the smoother tasting Mars Ice Cream. I hope that you please consider supplying more Mars Ice Creams to appease the baying crowds, who just can't see to the end of a full day of working without that special reward at the end of it

CatMan Comment  We will be stocking Mars ice cream for the rest of term.

Fish or Quorn

I am a pescatarian and have been struggling to eat recently. On some days there is no fish or quorn alternative to the meat or chicken main dishes. I also don't want to be forced to have the vegean main dish every day. In addition, if I don't like the soup I have been forced to have a sandwich twice a day (which as you can understand is not that healthy).  I appreciate fish is expensive but if meat and chicken are offered almost every meal I would hope that fish would be available at least one meal a day. Quorn would be a suitable alternative to (for example the vegetarian sausages at brunch).

Head Chef Comment: Thank you for your e-mail.   Recently I have been adding one or two fish each week to gauge its popularity because we have tried in vain in recent months to sell fish. I think the uptake is improving and as you will notice that this week we have featured pangasius, salmon en croute today and tomorrow we have sea bass and rainbow trout as well as hake on Friday. I can see the benefits of having fish on the menus, not only as a healthy option but this also helps to reduce the animal origin to our garden restaurant. Quorn does feature regularly with other vegetarian options.

Please let me know if I can help further with your dietary needs and I would be pleased to give those some considerations.

Aubergine Pesto

Can i congratulate the chefs on the scrumdiddliumptious aubergine pesto that accompanied the vegetarian main yesterday lunch. It was an inspired creation, and I do hope that you will continue to offer delicious accompaniments with mains, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian- it is these details which make me GLAD to eat at the GR.

CatMan Comment Thanks - glad you liked it.

Vegetarian paninis

Yesterday I was shocked and delighted by the unusual variety and quality of the vegetarian paninis on offer in the Robinson Red Brick cafe.
Normally there is only a cheese/mozzarella, tomato and basil on offer, and as a vegetarian who frequently uses the cafe I feel the choice is limited and discourages me from purchasing food in the cafe.
However, yesterday was a pleasant surprise and if it is possible to have more variety in the vegetarian panini selection this would be a great incentive for many vegetarians, including me, to keep buying off-meal time snacks in the cafe.

CatMan comment Thanks for your email and for the feedback and I'm pleased that you enjoyed the vegetarian Panini choice. We are in the process of revamping our Panini menus so I hope you will continue to enjoy the RBCB.

Seasonal Food

I like College food, my main suggestion regards making the menu even more green. Would it be possible for there to be more variety and seasonal choice in the menu? I like salmon, but there are so many other fish available (bass, perch, trout, mackerel to name but a few) which would add some novelty to the Garden Restaurant's otherwise good talent of cooking baked fish (I realise that you do use hake and whiting for battering, but I am thinking of baked fillets).

I really enjoyed the celery, parsnip and leek soup last week - could the kitchens try to be more seasonal in their choice of ingredients as in this dish? For example I have seen asparagus offered very frequently in some form since October and it only grows in England from around March. I look forward to seeing local asparagus on offer at the end of term!

Finally (on a personal taste note), could we have more mashed potato/parsnip offered instead of chips please?

CatMan Thanks for your email and suggestions. We would like to feature more varieties of fish on the Garden Restaurant menus but there are 2 obstacles really, food cost and demand. The cost of fish is very high generally especially for some of the species you mentioned. We have tired poached fish with a sauce, smoked fish with a free range poached egg, baked hake with a crust for example and we've found that these dishes simply do not sell and the result habitually is significant wastage. On the other hand, wrap the fish in batter or crumb and it's a winner. However, in light of your comment and others recently, in a couple of weeks' time we will try poached/baked fish again as an extra choice on the menus with a limit on the number of portions. It may be that as regards fish, some of our current students would be willing to go for it. I have reviewed the content of seasonal food on our current menus and I am content that it is okay. I do however agree with your asparagus comment and we will make amends. Again, we do feature mashed potatoes from time to time but whenever we remove chips, there are howls of protest so for the time being, I think we will keep chips/spicy spiral fries on our menus.

Suggestion to increase food variety

It would be nice to have more variety in the food we have available, for example different parts of the chicken besides the chicken breast, served as mains, different types of fish besides salmon and deep fried white fish. Also, other varieties of carbohydrates besides potatoes in various forms, such as pasta, risotto, etc. As for vegetables, sauteed vegetables, or other forms of vegetables, for example spinach, would be nice for a change as well.

CatMan comment Hi and thanks very much for your email and suggestion. We do already offer many of the variations that you have suggested - stuffed chicken thighs from time to time, pasta and rice several times each week as well as the pasta bar and baked potato options. Fish is a little more tricky as we find that although we do offer non-fried alternatives, they do tend to be much less popular which results in wastage. Nevertheless, thanks for your thoughts and we will take these into account in our next menu planning session.

Have the prices gone up?

Now quite sure if they have, but it feels like everything's a little more expensive. Formal, in particular, is dearer. Is there a reason for this?

CatMan comment Not since the start of Michaelmas term. We generally review prices during the summer and the new prices are in place for the start of the academic year. We take account of inflation and food inflation in particular and previous year's increases in making these decisions.

Fish

I am always highly impressed by the quality and the variety of the food in the Garden Restaurant. However, I would be delighted to see more fish options which have not been fried. I think that there are only about two fish options at dinner every week, and I would like to see it on the menu more frequently. Many thanks.

CatMan comment Thanks for the email. We do offer alternatives to fried fish from time to time but I have to say that the other options are far less popular and we end up with wasted food. Nevertheless I will bear your comments in mind in our next menu planning session.

Hand sanitiser

I know this might seem a tad obsessive, but I was wondering what type of hand sanitiser is provided in the Garden Restaurant? Most hand sanitisers don't kill norovirus, but I know that some brands do (Clorox and Germstar are supposed to be really good). Norovirus made lots of my friends very ill this time last year, so it would be amazing if Robinson could use a hand sanitiser that kills the virus (as much as I love Garden Restaurant food, I only want to see my meal once!)

CatMan comment Thanks for your email query. We use an alcohol gel and its purpose is "additional" hand hygiene rather than as a cure-all especially with regard to Norovirus. Frankly regular and consistent hand washing with warm/hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds is a far better way to avoid this. However may I suggest that for better advice on this winter bug, the College Nurse kf340@cam.ac.uk is your best bet.

Bar Food

Would it be possible to have a vegetarian bar food option on Saturday nights? The Sunday veggie option is always delicious!

CatMan comment Thanks for the suggestion. We will start this very soon.

Excellent food (as always!)

Just wanted to complement the chef on an excellent Coq au Vin on Tuesday lunchtime. The sauce really was fabulous, as was the chicken itself. Likewise, the chicken chasseur (I think?) a few Sundays ago was equally delicious!

Can I ask if the crumble you make during weekdays is a different recipe to the Sunday one? They are both excellent, but the weekday crumble is creamier and truly terrific! Keep up the excellent work team!

CatMan comment Thanks very much for your feedback. Glad you enjoy what we are doing. The crumble is generally made the same way but sometimes we use Demerara sugar in the topping and this can give it some richness.

Wholemeal baguettes

Are you able to make available wholemeal baguettes for the 'Fill your own baguette'?

CatMan comment Thanks for your mail and your suggestion. This is something we have tried before and I'm afraid that it has always resulted in our throwing away more than we serve. However, we are going to try again and only put out a couple at a time (the bulk order will be frozen) and we will see what happens. I hope it works but please be prepared for us to withdraw this again if we find that wastage is too high.

Korean Evening

I wanted to thank you for organising the fantastic Korean evening - the beef was so tender and the salads were delicious, and it was great to be able to sample authentic Korean cooking. Could this be more of a regular event; perhaps with other less well-known cuisines as well?

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback and glad you liked it.

Garden Restaurant queues

I was just wondering why the canteen layout had changed? Really, it makes no sense - the queues are much longer between the archway, creating health and safety issues. Space has been taken up for seating in the restaurant, there is now more unneeded space in the serving area, and queues often form under the archway because people don't realise the till on the righthand side is free - essentially meaning the system is less efficient than before. Could you please justify the reasons for the change?

CatMan comment I hope that this anonymous writer has now noted that we are working in the Garden Restaurant servery area, taking down ceilings etc in order to try to rectify the problem with water ingress into this area. There will be some noise and drilling going on throughout this week and possibly next. The result is that we need to temporarily change the access through the area. Please take every care when you see any warning signs and barriers around the College as these are complicated and messy jobs and will need your support in recognising the areas of work. As always if you think you see anything that looks dangerous please report to Bill McKim, Facilities Manager. Thanks you for your support in this matter.

The Grief of a Robinson Food Aficionado

I love Robinson food but I have to say that this term there hasn't always been enough of it, making for one very disappointed vegetarian.

It's the third time in the past two weeks now that the main vegetarian dish has sold out half way through dinner/lunch. When the dish looks particularly nomtastic, like today's enchiladas or the hummus and halloumi on garlic bread, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike want it so it runs out super fast!

To further to my woes today the crumble had also run out which made me very unhappy as I am an avid crumble eater (never miss that Sunday crumble!)

Can you make more food please?

CatMan comment Thanks for your feedback and I'm really sorry you have been disappointed on a couple of occasions. We start by sticking carefully to our portion control of 40 vegetarian/vegan options per service and we then monitor take-up through our tills system. As a dish is identified as being popular, so we increase production. This has worked in the main though I have to say that on the majority of occasions, we have food left over. However, I'm afraid that until it becomes apparent that a dish is in higher demand, as with all popular things, to get the best choice/variety requires an early visit to the Garden Restaurant.

Sunday roast beef (20th Oct)

The beef on Sundays roast was extremely tough - unpleasant I would say, and disappointing given the roasts are always amazing on Sundays! I am sure this was just a one off.

CatMan comment Both the chefs working on Sunday sampled the beef and said it was very tender. Unfortunately you do get the odd ropey bit but it is very unusual and considering we cook nearly 600kg of beef joints per annum, it is probably, as you said, a one off. Nevertheless, I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this particular Sunday roast.

Thank You!

I just wanted to say thank you so much to the Robinson chef (whose name I don't actually know - sorry!), for producing such amazing food!

It makes such a difference when we've loads of work, and hardly any kitchen facilities, to have delicious and filling meals every day. I just wanted to say thank you for providing such fantastic choice, quality, and quantity! (Also, your veggie recipes are especially delicious!)

It's also true that various members of my family insist on picking me up at the end of every term, just so they can have a Robinson lunch...

So, anyway, thanks so much!

CatMan comment Thanks very much for the feedback. I will pass on your kind remarks to Gary and his team.

Suggestion for next term

I'm aware we're near the end of another academic year so this is really a very early suggestion for next term or further afield. How about putting on a Japanese themed evening either in the garden restaurant or formal hall - you could do sushi or sashimi starter, teppanyaki or terriyaki main course, and even a sweet dim sum (strictly Chinese but still delicious) dessert like steamed custard buns. Just something I thought I'd throw into the idea pile.

Keep up the great work, and pass on thanks, and well wishes for the summer ahead, to all in the catering department

CatMan comment Thanks for your email and your suggestion. We did do a Japanese themed evening last term which was well received so I am sure we will want to repeat this. I will pass on your suggestions to Chef who will no doubt look to include these as appropriate. Thanks for your kind wishes and I am pleased you enjoy the catering offering.

Dinner

Great to see Chicken-wedges hotpot back on the menu last night - absolutely smashing and delicious, unique!

One idea - why not create a dish unique to Robinson, or reflecting its history as a college, a college dish? Just an idea!

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback and glad you like the hotpot. Regarding your idea, we will give this some thought and see what our resident Gary (not so naked) Chef comes up with.

Suggestion regarding garden restaurant

Might I suggest that based on my admittedly rough and gung ho survey methods, users of the garden restaurant overwhelmingly prefer curly fries to the 'normal' chips. Maybe curly fries should therefore be the front line choice instead, with normal chips to mix it up occasionally.

CatMan comment Thanks for your thoughts. I'll give it some thought though I suspect that we will stick with the current formula. You perhaps know that curly fries carry a significantly higher food cost than ordinary chips. Perhaps you would conduct a survey to see how much extra people would be prepared to pay for this delicacy

Seeking Simple

I understand that you have a wide range of individuals with their own food preferences, however lately I've found most of the restaurant options to be of specific taste, with many international dishes and not many specifically "British" ones.

I would consider myself quite a picky eater, however I do enjoy many of your meals, including the fried/breaded chicken and turkey, sausages, burgers and cottage/shepherd's pie. It would great to be able to see more of these on a regular basis, hopefully one for each main meal of the day.

I will, however, end on a high note and praise the delicious Sunday roast dinners and brunch options. I always make sure not to miss them.

CatMan comment Thanks for the thoughts. I think this is a case of each to his own but having reviewed our menus, I am satisfied that we have the right balance of dishes offering something for everyone on pretty much every day. Glad you like the roasts.

Cold deserts

keep up with the excellent cold deserts recently!
I may be getting fatter but I cant resist some of those cakes, so do please keep them coming!

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback and glad you like them.

Ginger Cake

Thank you for the delicious ginger cake! I always get at least 3 slices when I see it for sale. I would love to have it more often but I don't think it would be very healthy for me...

CatMan comment Glad you like it and thanks for the feedback.

Dishes with sauces (except Sunday roasts)

How come on the menus it always says there is a sauce with some dishes (eg; often chicken, like on a bed of salad, or in a tomato and chive sauce) and yet when being served it we don't actually get the sauce - merely it has been cooked in the sauce and infused in the meat/fish?

CatMan comment Habitually the sauce is generally at the end of the counter away from the actual dish it is intended for. Service staff should offer you the sauce so i will ensure they are re-briefed.

Quick Idea

An idea: would it be possible to include a link to the top-up page on the balance emails that are sent out automatically?

CatMan comment Thanks for the idea which I like very much. Can't actually build in the link to the top-up page because of the raven sign-in in between. However, I have put in the link to the payment page which has the click through so I hope that helps.

Formal Hall

I just wanted to send my compliments to the chef who made the custom desert for me with my dairy allergy. I immensely enjoyed it and it makes me look forward more to future formals.

CatMan comment Thanks, I will pass on your feedback.

Beef Burgers

CatMan comment
We noticed last night that our burgers were not as popular as usual and I'm sorry that I didn't give you advance information to allay any natural concerns that you may be having with regard to the true meat content of the burgers.
The burgers we serve are made freshly by our main meat butcher with whom we have been trading for well over 10 years. They have issued us the following statement.

To whom it may concern, I would like to confirm that Andrews of Cambridge do not and have never had any dealings with any suppliers who deal in horse meat. We have declarations from all our suppliers confirming this and also have clarification from the FSA (ref: 702397) that we are not required to DNA test our beef burgers as they are made in house using fully traceable fresh beef. Emails from suppliers are available to view. Andrews of Cambridge

I very much hope that that will reassure you that all our beef dishes carry the same level of guarantee of traceability. If you have any queries, please feel free to contact me.

Take-away cakes

I really love the cakes and desserts you do in the Garden Restaurant (in the dessert counter - not the big pudding) but am often a bit too full to eat them straight away after dinner so would love to be able to take one away with me to eat a bit later on in the evening. I was wondering if you could maybe provide little paper bags (like the ones in the cafe) to take them away in? As the take away boxes are a bit too big and also seem a bit wasteful just for a cake!

CatMan comment Thanks for the suggestion. We will get some small bags for this purpose.

Haggis

The haggis last night was FANTASTIC. Please consider adding it as a regular chef special!

Book a glass of Port with Formal Hall

My friend and I noticed on the meal booking website the other day that there was the option of a glass of port under the 'info' section, but then when we went to book, I couldn't see where this was. So basically we were just wondering how we booked the port, as my friend especially was extremely excited about this.

CatMan comment On the booking screen you just need to scroll down the list of wines to find what you are looking for, and then click in the box next to it to add it to your booking. You can now see the 50cl port as well as the new bottle of wine options in addition to the house wine.

Milk in the cafe

Apparently milk is no longer available in the cafe and only in the garden restaurant?
Just wondering if this could be changed back, it's often convenient to grab some milk for cereal later in the evening or just at random times of the day for tea etc.

CatMan comment Thanks for your email. We haven't stopped stocking milk in the RBC, rather it is just that out of term we do not have as many small cartons downstairs which is where the RBC take it from. We have asked the RBC staff to monitor the usage/sales this term and increase the order if required. Sorry for the short term problem.

Holiday catering arrangements

It would be nice to have the usual term time options of just a main course, or main course with sides, during the holidays as well, for both lunch and dinner. The conference lunch arrangements are a little pricey even for college members, and the full set meal is quite a large portion - more than is required, and it would be nice to be able to cut out the unnecessary extras.

CatMan comment I do recognise that the product is a substantial package and obviously therefore attracts a higher overall cost. Nevertheless, I hope you agree that it is still very good value for money. Whilst I certainly don't wish to discourage students from using the facilities during vacation period, it is true to say that our resources are all geared around conferences and this includes a reduced cashier facility because charges for delegates are usually invoiced. Equally, various items, bread rolls, desert or cheese, which are part of the package are served in the main room which would therefore make issue and control a greater task if charges were made individually. I do hope that you will see the cost as excellent value for money and continue to use the restaurant during the vacations and that my explanation goes some way to helping you understand the rationale behind our policy.

Red Brick baguettes

Just to say I had the Chicken Salad Baguette and the 'Italian' Baguette recently in the Red Brick Cafe and they were both delicious, especially the Italian one. Having tried the identical Chicken Salad Baguette from Greggs many times, I have to say yours had way more chicken, more filling, less mayo and was a lot more tasty! Please continue! Thanks!

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback and I'm delighted that we have this so right.

Cafe suggestions

I love the Red Brick Cafe and find it very useful , convenient and reasonably priced. However there are a distinct lack of relatively healthy snacks/options currently . The "Eat Natural" range are very popular, healthier and reasonably priced. Also the Innocent smoothie range, as the fruit drinks are all from concentrate at the moment. Also the option of thin-based pizzas would be great. Just some suggestions.

CatMan comment Thanks for your mail and for the suggestions. I will certainly add these into the melting pot when we are considering the product range again.

Food pricing

I have heard recently that the Garden Restaurant meals of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (and their equivalents at the weekend) are subsidised, but I am quite sceptical on this. Given the meals are quite expensive at £3.45 for a main with two sides (this seems comparable with prices at school and sixth forms) it is hard to see how the cost of the meal could be any higher. Moreover, how can a subsidy system be in place for these meals when 34% (£2.438 million) of the college's income comes from student rents and catering - essentially, the college needs to make profit on its catering meals for the college to function. It seems as if the college meals in the Garden Restaurant exist to generate profit, and are not, as we are often told, subsidised for students. It is merely conference guests are charged even more than students to generate greater profit for the college.

CatMan comment Thanks for the mail, unfortunately sent anonymously so I can't reply to the sender. The prices we charge reflect the cost of the food, we operate at about 65% food cost on average though some items are sold at significantly less than cost. We regularly test the cost of sale, the most recent test was at lunchtime on 14th November when the average cost per meal was £4.63, coming in at only just below the average sale value of £4.83. However, these figures do not take account of the costs of staff which averages about £4.00 per meal, all of the other expenses - china, glass, equipment, maintenance, cleaning materials, disposables, etc, etc, etc which average about £3.70 per meal. So you can see that the cost is mounting at close to £12.00 per meal and that is before heat, light, power, rates, insurance. The list goes on and on. I'd be happy to go through the figures in more detail with anyone who is interested but I hope that for now, I have dispelled any notion that we make a profit in the student food operation. I'm not qualified to comment on the amount the College earns from rents, etc so you may want to refer that query to the Finance Manager.

No external food in the RBCB

...I do see the merit to the principle that you don't want people coming to the cafe, bringing their dinner, leaving rubbish and not paying for any food. It may, however, be worth making a special case in some circumstances..... If two people have come to the cafe together and one of them has bought something, the RBC still makes a profit. If I had known the rule (I honestly didn't think) we would both have gone somewhere else..... Anyway a 'no external food in the RBC unless you're buying food or have brought someone who is' may be a more profitable approach in the long run than 'no external food in the cafe full-stop'....

CatMan Comment With apologies to the author for having edited what was a very long email (in fact two), I have thought more about the point raised. I have decided that the policy in place is the right one not least because I want to avoid any misunderstandings and I have no doubt that with the highly intelligent audience we play to here at RobCol, we would soon be considering any number of variations on a rule. So we stick to our principle that you may not bring outside food or drinks into the RBCB, apart from one exception and that is Birthday cake provided you have had advance discussion and agreement with the staff.

Chef's Special

Just to say the chef's special of Wednesday lunch was absolutely incredible. Compliments to the chef etc.

CatMan Comment Thanks, Peppered stroganoff isn't to everyone's taste so I'm glad you liked it.

Meat-free Monday

Just wanted to say how great it is that Robinson has adopted Meat-Free Monday. As a vegan for environmental reasons it's fantastic to have such supportive college catering. Meat is very carbon-intensive so this initiative should help the college's carbon footprint quite considerably.

Also please pass on my thanks to the chef who cooked my vegan formal hall yesterday - it was delicious.

P.S. Would it be possible in the future to have some vegan soups?

CatMan comment Thanks for your email and I'm glad you like the campaign. Regarding soups, almost all of them are vegan. We use very little butter, and Chef is actually about to stop that altogether in favour of Pure, no milk and no animal stocks. So only those soups that include cheese e.g. Broccoli and Stilton would not be vegan.

I think the meat-free Mondays is a great idea. I would love to support it but I'm a vegan so is there any chance one of the options could be vegan for this? I rarely come to the garden restaurant as the vegan meals normally only seem to be on the lunch menu.

CatMan comment Thanks for this. Yes I can assure you that one of the dishes will be vegan.

Street Food

I have suggestion - maybe we could have some street food? Different culture every week such as British, Indian, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, burritos...

CatMan comment Thanks for your email and suggestion. We have served street food for the last 3 terms and we found that students became tired of it and generally stir fries are not very popular at the moment. Good old British food is the favourite just now. We have planned to reintroduce the street food concept for both the Lent and Easter terms. As for food from different cultures, we regularly produce Indian, Mexican, Chinese, and Moroccan food every week in the Garden Restaurant. In addition to that we have Spanish and Turkish themed evenings and last term African and Indian. I hope you agree that we are offering a pretty wide range at the moment but do watch out for the return of street food next term.

Aubergine

Just wanted to drop you a line regarding the vegetarian filled aubergine today.

I had that dish a while ago, when it was offered for lunch. For the first time in three years, I actually had to return that as pretty much inedible – I even had the pleasure to have a chat with the head chef back then, who agreed that apparently something had gone wrong (I was still the first to complain about that dish…).

Anyways, I tried the same dish today, and I have to congratulate the kitchen team: spot on!

Thanks for your continuing efforts to improve the G/R even further! Keep it up, it is the envy of many other colleges!

CatMan comment Thanks for your email. Chef and I remember the incident a few years ago and I'm glad that we have managed to avoid a repetition. Glad you liked it and thanks for the encouraging feedback.

Special themed formal

It will be great if Robinson has themed formal such as Halloween!!

CatMan comment Thanks for your suggestion. We already have plans in place for next Wednesday 31st so watch this space for more news.

Chinese King Spare Rib

I really do appreciate the restaurant putting in effort to cook chinese styled snack. The king spare rib has great taste. I understand that by using minced meat to make this dish makes it much more convenient to eat. However, minced meats lacks the texture of spare rib which is equally important as the taste.

CatMan comment Thanks for your feedback. The product in question is a pre-produced bought item rather than a home-made dish and we use it specifically as a snack item for ease of preparation and to serve as a quick dish that is tasty but not meant to replace the genuine item. I agree with you that it is not as good as a properly marinated spare rib so we will give some more thought to this. Keep your eyes open for the real thing.

Food in Michealmas 2012

The food this term has been quite disappointing, both in the range available and the compared to what was offered last year. The dishes are completely different and only the Sunday roast remains good

CatMan comment I always find it hard to respond when the sender wishes to remain anonymous because without more detail it is difficult to understand what specifically the sender thinks is disappointing. I do know that nothing very much has changed - same chefs, same or similar seasonal dishes, exactly the same range of choices. We are always conscious of the need not to be complacent but it is very hard to address generalities. More detail please.

Worth coming back for the food

I think the food at college is excellent, and it is definitely worth the effort of coming back from the Engineering department to get lunch!

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback. Glad you are enjoying the food.

Quorn Shepherds Pie

I am quite the fan of a good shepherd's pie meself but there's only ever a meaty version and this is very sad times. You do quorn lasagne, chilli con carne and bolognaise but have you considered branching out into quorn sheperd's pie?

CatMan comment As you say, we do use quorn in a number of dishes, including shepherds pie so we will put this on again as soon as we are able to.

Well Done!

I'm in my third year now, and also quite a good cook myself, so I often give the Garden Restaurant a miss as either the menus have become repetitive or else I know I can make something better myself, but I tried the Cajun chicken,pepper and tomato hot pot with jacket wedges that was for lunch today and it was delicious!

The balance of meat, veg and carbs was just the perfect portion for lunch as well as I find that getting the meal deal in order to have meat, veg and carbs, is often too filling for lunch time.

So yes, it was truly great stuff and I look forward to seeing more things like it in the future.

CatMan comment Thanks for the mail and the feedback. Much appreciated.

Chefs Special

The recent chef's specials have been delicious - the Italian evening was my favourite dinner I've ever had in the canteen (I'm sure you mean Garden Restaurant) and the recent locally sourced produce evening with the creme brulees were divine! Keep up the great work (but consider not having ice cream as a desert when there is snow outside!

CatMan comment Thanks for this and glad you enjoyed them. Ice cream in the snow? Well some people can't get enough.

Meat Balls

Firstly, I'd like to say thanks for some of the great food that's been on offer so far this term, for example, in the last few days the tasty stroganoff and very well cooked salmon (and many more).

I was excited to see meatballs on the menu for lunch today and they were indeed tasty, but my friends and I did feel that meatballs would have gone much better with pasta of some kind and the portions were quite small.

On the subject of meatballs, quite some time ago you offered cider battered meatballs in the Garden Restaurant which were delicious - I'd love to see them again!

But in general, Robinson's food is great, so thanks!

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback and glad you like what we're doing. We'll give some thought to how we compliment dishes with the carbs offering and I'm sure you will see the cider battered meatballs making a reappearance.

More chocolate pudding please!

The food continues to be great as usual at the Garden Restaurant. My personal favourite is the Cottage Pie followed by the Lasagne, so I would be biased to ask for more of that!

Just a quick point though - I have noted that whenever there is chocolate pudding with chocolate custard, normally on a Thursday evening, it always runs out by about 6.20pm, and yet the demand for that particular pudding (maybe because its chocolate?) continues to be asked until 7pm (I asked, and I noted many others did after; I have also noted people always asking well into the dinner shift on other Thursdays. Would you consider cooking one extra batch for one day (or Thursday, as it seems to be) to see how it sells, as demand for it always remains strong well into the dinner shift, and it always sells out early?!

CatMan comment Glad you like it and sorry that you've been disappointed. We will ensure the pastry team increases the portions for this and monitor what happens.

Pasta

Could we have more pasta and less chips?

CatMan comment Thanks for your feedback. We will bear in mind your comment but reality is that whenever we cut down on chips, there are howls of indignation and when we increase the pasta, we end up with more wastage. Difficult to balance this easily I'm afraid.

Diet drinks

Please could we possibly have some diet coke back in the chiller cabinet in the Garden Restaurant? It makes me sad to only have the option of drinking regular coke, in all its hideous sugaryness.

CatMan comment Thanks for this. I've checked and whilst they are a bit deep into the fridge, there are usually diet drinks. If you find there aren't, do speak to the supervisor immediately please who will probably have some back-up stock to hand.

Soups

I love the soups that you offer, but I think that a basic one is missing from the menu, and that is corn soup! I think generally people like it, it's simple, and would be a nice change from the normal vegetable soups. And perhaps try variations like chicken and sweetcorn?

I hope you like this idea. But generally the food is great.

I would also like to say that the American special night last term was amazing.

CatMan comment Thanks for your feedback. We'll have a think about your suggestions and see where we can go with this. Unlikely to include chicken as we aim for all our soups to be vegetarian. Glad you like the food generally.

SO Proud of Garden Restaurant

I've tried other colleges food and no doubt Garden Restaurant is the best!! It so common for other colleges to overcook the vegetable. Also, is it possible to have some Asian dessert please? Something like banana fritter will keep me happy for all day. A big thank you to all the friendly staffs at the restaurant. Smiley.

CatMan comment Glad you like it and thanks very much for saying so.

Missed out of Extra Bonus Credit

CatMan comment Sorry to any of you who missed out on the extra bonus credit dates. There have been two sessions with 10% bonus credit just recently – 1 last week at breakfast and then again this week in the RBCB. There are unlikely to be more this term so the usual level of bonus credit will apply as shown on the website. Generally I would send an e-mail but that relys upon my availability to send them and I'm not always here to do so. You do need to look out for other communications as well. Notices were posted on Facebook - both the Catering page http://www.facebook.com/CatManandCo and the RBCB page http://www.facebook.com/RedBricks, on the catering news on this website and there were posters around in the outlets too so there was really plenty of info about. Sorry if you missed out but maybe try and link into some of the other comms for the future so that you are not just reliant upon emails.

Vegan meal

Last night's (24th Jan) vegan food was AMAZING - more please!!

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback - I'm delighted that you enjoyed it.

Haggis on Burn's Night?

How about a haggis-and-cheese panini in the cafe for Burns' Night on the 25th? It's an excellent combination I assure you....

CatMan comment Thanks for your suggestion. We are having a think about this but you may want to just go and check on Burn's night.

Paninis

On the subject of paninis, I would much appreciate it if there were some without cheese in. Ham and salsa, etc., make very tasty snacks.

CatMan comment Okay thanks for that feedback. I know that we do have non-cheese options from time to time but nevertheless, I'll pass your comment on to the Kitchen.

More Halal portions please

I was just wondering if it might be possible to have more portions of the halal option whenever it is on the menu? I only ask because even if I get there in the first ten minutes of the cafeteria being open, it's usually already finished. Clearly a lot of people are eating it so I don't think it would be wasted.

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback and sorry you have been disappointed. We currently produce 15-20 potions per service so we will increase this to 30-35 as from Monday 23rd January.

Halal catering

I am writing in regards to my concern over the lack of halal food available for dinner and lunch, I've noticed that a halal option is not present frequently enough, and i know it may be a lot to ask but i was wondering if there would be anyway i could get halal food on a daily basis?

Catman comment We are serving halal food in the Garden Restaurant on Mondays through Thursdays alternating between lunch and dinner. On Friday we serve fish so do not offer a halal choice. We have catered for over 120 portions through the week and there has been some wastage recently so my feeling is that the quantity and frequency are about right. This is advertised on the 'catering highlights' and always features on the Garden Restaurant menu so please refer to the website to see when the daily servings are being offered.

Thank you very much for the halal options.
 

RBCB prices

Because I often missing lunch because of lectures/practices, I used to get a snack from the Red Brick Cafe.

However, charging students 2.65 for a plain salad bowl for example, in my opinion, is not acceptable and I hope that you will adjust prices to a more reasonable level.

At this price level, unfortunately, my friends and I have to get a meal/snack outside the college which would not be ideal for us and not in your interest.

CatMan comment Thanks for your email and feedback. I do recognise the point you make and accept that the cost is relatively high. The reason is that we buy in these products and sell them on and I'm afraid that the cost price to us is high such that we make a very minimal mark-up. Perhaps for the reason you have identified these salads are not popular so we are about to withdraw them. We will give some thought to more competitively priced alternatives.

Humous

There should be more houmus (or hummus)!!! It would be nice if there were a pot of houmus like there's tomato ketchup and by the salad bar. By the way the food's amazing!

CatMan comment Well okay, whatever floats your boat... We will give this some thought. Oh and thanks for the recipe.

veggie dish

Thank you for the wonderful cabbage vegetable option yesterday (Wednesday) evening! So much nicer than previous cabbage options and so tasty I would love the recipe!

Amazing Food

Thanks for the amazing salmon asian street food last week, the Saturday hall of which all was excellent but deserving specific note was the beautifully tender and juicy steak (with the perfectly crispy potatoes, and the really delicious pumpkin and the sauce). Just had the pepper, asparagus and cheese tart tonight which was, again, beautiful.

I think it was because there was a heavy and consistent flow of students and or a brief drop in feedback from the front serving staff to the "back-end" but there was a shortage of veg when I arrived at 6.20. On the scale of 1, completely inconsequential, to 5, seriously, this was a definite 1. I didn't mind waiting for a few minutes and I'm certain that come summer conference session, these supply and demand peaks will once again become flattened out resulting in no delays.

The pecan desert which was served in the 'cold' area on Friday (correct?) was very nice.

CatMan comment Thanks for the positive feedback and the constructive criticism.

Food Complaint

Please can you tell the chefs in the garden restaurant not to put so much salt in the leek and potato soup? I got it for lunch today and it was inedible because it was so salty. Soups are meant to be a healthy option but they aren't if they are dowsed in salt!

On a positive note the bronkies in the cafe are amazing!!

CatMan comment Thanks for your email and feedback. We sampled the soup immediately following your feedback and we felt that it was a little over-salted but it may be that your salt meter is more sensitive. Thanks for the comment, we will bear this in mind for the future.
 

Tonights Dinner (2nd June 2011)

I just wanted to write a quick note to say that the Chinese spiced salmon with salad was truly delicious this evening! The salmon is normally very well done here, but tonight was extra special with amazing flavour and accompanying salad.

Garden Restaurant

I am normally very happy with the Garden Restaurant but in the last week I have been really disappointed with it on a couple of occassions.

Last Friday, I went down at 7pm for dinner to find the lights in the serving area had been switched off and there was essentially no food left - I was offered the flakes that has fallen off the salmon served earlier(!)or curry without rice. When I went down for dinner today, at 6.55, there was again no food left. Whilst I appreciate the pitta's were still avaliable, the meat options had completely dissappeared and I either had to have a jacket potato or wait for Scampi if I wanted to have a hot meal.

Whilst I realise that the canteen is busy in exam term, surely you expect a surge in demand and cater accordingly? I appreciate the I was late(ish) for dinner, but if you are going to advertise that the canteen is open until 7.15, there needs to be enough food to last. Futhermore, had I arrived earlier, the food would only have run out sooner - as I see it, this is not so much an issue about when I arrived but about how much food was initally prepared.

On your menu today, you clearly highlighted the benefits of a good healthy diet to support brain activity. You can therefore understand my disappointment at being offered scampi, a cheese pitta, or a cheesey potato...

I hope that tomorrow after a long day at my faculty, there will be some hot food avaliable for my dinner as the pork stir-fry sounds delicious.

CatMan comment Thanks for your email last night and I'm sorry that you have been disappointed on a couple of occasions recently. I do understand that after a long day you would have liked the full choice to be available. Having spoken to my team, the chefs on duty reported that both main courses 85 x salmon and 85 x Turkey ran out at about 6.50pm. They replaced one of the main courses with scampi. There was still jacket potatoes, vegetarian options available, baguette and salad bar plus the scampi for the rest of service. The problem is that it is difficult to gauge the quantities accurately; we have already increased production in recognition of the busier time of year and most of the dish recipes are such that they cannot be produced at short notice, hence the scampi fall back which is very quick. Nevertheless, we will increase the production volumes again from today and I hope that you won't be disappointed again. Incidentally, Monday night's service this week, 80 x Newmarket sausages, 85 x beef and both choices still available until 7.15, so evening service is very hit and miss unfortunately and therefore difficult to get right.

Friday's Formal

Wow. That duck was amazing. Desert was nice. Starter of the soup was v good. But Wow, that Duck was amazing. Well done to the whole team again.

Food for the Research day was also very nice. Good range of sandwich fillings. Particularly liked the Cranberry and Brie (?) / something one. Fruit was nice, though the apple I picked had a large cut in it which had resulted in some of it turning v brown and squidgy, deserts v good, particularly the one which had a very light butter coffee (I think) icing on the top which had somehow been made to have what seemed to be a thin crust... doesn't sound nice describing it here but was v nice, also the flapjacks with a raspberry on top... delicious. Finally sausage rolls, excellent... I'll have to ask, bribe, steal the recipe / retailer details from your chef(s) sometime, actually seeing some finely cut onion in it was nice.

We're really being spoilt.

CatMan comment Thanks for the detailed feedback – Very welcome and I'm delighted that we continue to please.

Tartare Sauce

I was very disappointed by the lack of tartar sauce to accompany my scampi a few days ago, it appears to have disappeared from the condiments table. Will it be making a return?

CatMan comment Sorry this may have been a short-term absence. Did you ask anyone because it may just have failed to put in an appearance for some simpler reason and it's always worth checking? We will ensure that stocks are returned and available very shortly.

Checking balances and transactions

I was wondering if there was a way of checking online a) how much money was on your card and b) a list of your termly transactions i.e. how much you've paid for meals? At the moment I'm keeping receipts but Clare told me that I could just check online - not sure how though... Keep up the good food.

CatMan comment Yes you can check your transactions on-line, details of how to do this on the website. If you want to know your balance, ask at the till before you process your order as the amount is displayed then. You could also ask for a printed receipt but you need to ask for that at the start of the process.

Sweet-potato chips

Thank you for those deliciously amazing superfantastical sweet-potato chips that we had for lunch a couple of days ago!

Breakfast

I'd just like to say that breakfast is excellent! The staff are always very friendly and helpful and the food is delicious. Thank you!

CatMan comment Thanks - that's really great feedback which we appreciate.

Waffles

This morning I got out of bed several hours before I normally do so that I could enjoy a waffle for breakfast. However, I was very disappointed to find that waffles are not being offered while conference guests are here. Could you explain why this is? Perhaps conference guests don't appreciate waffles as much as students do, but do they find the very thought of waffles so offensive that it isn't possible to even offer them at breakfast?

CatMan comment Sorry you were disappointed though the early start no doubt did you a lot of good. This is a question of numbers I'm afraid. We change just about all our menus when the conference period begins and breakfast is no different. The number of conference breakfast diners would make it impossible to cook and serve waffles the way we do in term time. So whilst I'm sure there are many who would like to have waffles, we don't even offer them to avoid the congestion. This is a treat we reserve for our student customers.

Quality of Food

I've been frequenting your restaurant for 2 years now (nearly) and I'm afraid that your food quality has been steadily dropping this year. I'm not the only one with this opinion & aside from occasional bursts of delicious meals, all the meat has been far far too overcooked. Its tough to the point where its difficult to cut with a knife or to chew & some of the recent chefs specials have been special to the point where half the meat served was in fact fat & the other half tasted like rubber. I'm not trying to dramatize anything, it was absolutely terrible. Disappointing, as many groups that I am now part of have decided to have formals in other colleges with better food.

CatMan comment I was sorry to read of your thoughts about the food in the Garden Restaurant and have been talking things over with my team as to what has changed. We are using the same ingredients largely though the range of products on offer has increased several-fold in the last 2 years. The team are largely the same and the processes and methods we use are the same. Nevertheless, your comments have encouraged me to ensure that we do not become complacent and I hope you will find that things return to your liking. Incidentally, it is quite difficult to react to generalised statements of this sort - specifics are far easier to do something about. So, if you find that a particular dish is sub-standard - e.g. half fat, half rubber, please do bring that to the supervisor's attention immediately at the time. We would be happy to offer you a replacement or a refund there and then if the dish is of poor quality.

Frank feedback

I'll keep this email short, please do not mistake my frankness for rudeness.....

CatMan comment Thanks for the email and for your comments. I'm always pleased to hear from people, especially if they are passionate about the issue they are raising.

Wholemeal baguettes

May I suggest that you offer brown/wholemeal bread with the white bread in the fill-your-own-baguette section? Its usually the same price & a lot healthier.

CatMan comment Thanks for the suggestion about the wholemeal baguettes. This is something we try from time to time and I have to say that in general, we throw away more than we serve. Whilst you clearly would like these, the vast majority don't. We'll perhaps have another trial again next term and see whether things have changed.

Top up hours extension

I write to you to express my dismay at the ridiculously short hours during which the 10% top up credit has been offered. An hour during breakfast & 2 hours after lunch will cause many students to miss out on these offers as our school hours extend beyond 2pm on many days. You should already be aware that many more students visit the garden restaurant & bar during dinner than they do during lunch. Extending your top up credit times for an entire day or even for dinner will result in many more plonking down large sums of money, a benefit that will result us both ie. credit for us, liquid cash for you.

CatMan comment I understand that it is frustrating if your hours preclude you being able to take advantage of offers. However, I'm sure you appreciate that the whole point of making offers available at specific times is in fact to encourage people to visit the outlets at times they might otherwise not. Many people did manage to get up a bit earlier and enjoy waffles at breakfast so I think the times are not completely unreasonable. Just a reminder by the way that there is always bonus credit available all the through term; it's just the extra bonus credit that is promoted at specified times as yesterday.

Hitting for 6

I did find the fair trade chicken in banana leaf with Rotti on Monday last week was very oily. IS it possible to cook it with less oil? However if it's traditionally cooked like that then that's fine. I have to say it was brilliant though!!

Chicken and sesame seeds from snack bar on Wednesday was amazing. Fair trade triple chocolate on Thursday was very nice as well.

Well done again to the whole team on a brilliant job.

CatMan comment Thanks very much for the feedback and we are all pleased that you liked it. Sorry about the chicken. The recipe for the sauce was very oily and because it was on banana leaf, there was nowhere for it to escape to.

Cornish Pastie

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-12535751
I'm not sure the "Cornish Pasties" in the Garden Restaurant can be called Cornish pasties anymore (see link)- they definitely don't look like anything I've seen before! Ever thought about getting some genuine (made in cornwall) Cornish pasties for the canteen...?

Or maybe even a "Cornish evening"- pasties, cornish clotted cream/ice cream, some cornish cider, saffron cake. I think I may be getting carried away here but it's worth a shot...

CatMan comment Thanks for your email and comment. Yes we take the point and will consider this for the future. For now, I can say that the product we sell is sold and marketed to us as a Cornish Pastie so I'm content that we are not infringing any new conditions. We have had a Cornish Evening in the past. I have to say that it was sadly not very popular. However, never say never - we will have a think about whether to include such an event in our plans in the future.

Drip hazard

I wanted to commend your team and yourself for the Wednesday Hall. I thought the food was brilliant. Thanks for all your hard work.

One minor suggestion is to get some kind of drip free cream pot for when the coffee is served (and, for the formals with wine, wine bottles)... though I have no idea what how this would work or where you can get one, I just mention it as I've been dripped on my both... a hazard which I'm perfectly happy to endure but others might be a little scared/annoyed by. If I have any bright ideas, I'll knock up a prototype and send it your way for testing! Otherwise, all good.

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback – point taken and I'm sorry that you have been victim of what is at the end of the day poor service. Whether a drip-free pot or more careful serving, I will see what we can do about finding a solution to this issue. Thanks too for your kind words about Wednesday Hall.

Half way Hall menu

I'm writing in response to the vegetarian menu for Halfway Hall - I believe there is a great financial disparity between the meat main course of 'Fillet of Scottish beef wrapped in bacon' and the vegetarian alternative of risotto comprising of Quorn and cheese. Quorn is an ingredient which is not only considerably cheaper than beef, it would not feature on the menu at an established restaurant. Seeing as Halfway Hall is considered a celebratory feast held to mark a momentous occasion, I feel that a Quorn risotto is not really an acceptable vegetarian alternative to an undoubtedly decadent and high quality main course for meat eaters.

CatMan comment I think that you point is valid in that it is obvious that the dish ingredients are less costly that fillet of beef. However, the vast bulk of the costs, over 85%, are not related to the ingredients (food preparation and service labour costs, fixed costs, variable service costs, etc) and there is therefore not a significant variance in the overall costs. Please be reassured that I will give this further attention when we are planning pricing and menu content in the future.

Arabian Evening

The Arabian Gulf evening was delicious; the lamb was overcooked but the vegetables and dessert were delicious!

Local suppliers

Would just like to say I am most impressed at your list of local suppliers for potatoes, apple juice, meat etc. Thankyou for supporting Cambridge farmers and minimizing food miles!

CatMan comment It's a pleasure. Thanks for checking out our list

Meat and Potato Pie?

It has come to my attention that we have not seen the tasty and warming snack option that is the meat and potato pie for quite some time. My friends and I are greatly concerned that it may have been swapped in favour of the Cornish pasty, which, while a perfectly acceptable snack item, just doesn't replace its foil-covered predecessor.

Please reinstate this Garden Restaurant favourite!

CatMan comment Thanks for the email and for the comment. We will give this heartfelt plea due consideration. Watch this space.

Halal

Thank you for the Halal – I will be there.

Ready-made sandwiches

The baguette bread available for making your own sandwiches is really nice.

However the mock-baguette bread used in the ready-made sandwiches in the fridge is very heavy and spongy and rather unpleasant.

Please could the ready-made sandwiches available in the fridge be made out real baguette (e.g. like the baguette available for making your own sandwiches)?

This would improve them greatly, and, I feel, encourage people to buy them.

(The sandwiches made out of toast-type bread are fine)

CatMan comment ^Thanks for your email and the feedback.

The ready-made product is in fact a sub rather than a baguette. As you know, we buy them in so we will change the order and have some of these items as baguettes and see what you think.^

Burns Night Cheese

I would just like to thank you for the wonderful cheese course at tonight's Burns Night Formal, it really made my day.

CatMan comment Glad you liked it.

Not fried fish

....would it be possible to have more fresh fish dishes in the cafeteria? I like fish & I don't need to go into the health benefits of it, but I try to avoid deep fried/breaded/battered fish/food, so don't tend to get through very much fish in the cafeteria.

CatMan comment We do offer a variety of fish dishes other than fried from time to time - poached and steamed - but it is fair to say that these usually prove rather more unpopular, resulting in more wastage. I will give your comments further thought though in our next round of menu planning. Thanks for taking the time to let me have your feedback.

Bread

Last term, on one or two days, there was homemade bread on offer in the Garden Restaurant. There were three flavours to choose from, I think one was sundried tomato and another was stilton. The bread was absolutely delicious and it would be nice to see it again in the Garden Restaurant from time to time.

CatMan comment Thanks very much for the feedback. Rest assured that the speciality breads will be making a comeback from time to time. Keep your eyes peeled.

First of all, thank you for your hard work. The general standard of food at Robinson is high, and compares very well with other colleges I've eaten at.

There is one issue I'm less pleased with. The sliced bread (particularly brown) provided for toast and separate sale seems very low quality. It is heavily salted, thinly sliced and quite unpleasant to eat. I have recently stopped buying it as result.

I appreciate their are other factors involved in the choice (presumably cost and shelf life), but as a healthy and relatively inexpensive staple, providing higher quality sliced bread would be a significant improvement to the services you offer and would hopefully benefit the community.

CatMan comment Thanks for the compliment and thanks for the feedback. In fact this bread is one of the more expensive and that may be the factor in the shorter self-life. Anyway we are taking your comments into account and are looking at alternatives. Thanks again.

Vegetarian Chefs Special

I have never, while at Robinson, seen a vegetarian Chef's Special. While the Chef's Special each week does sound decidedly appetising, almost making me think I might be missing out, I am unable to by-pass the reasons for my dietary restrictions. As a result, it would be lovely to see perhaps a vegetarian Chef's Special each term - I would love to witness the same gourmet touch you add readily to dishes containing meat in dishes without, even rarely. Thanks.

CatMan comment We have offered vegetarian chefs specials in the past so I guess you missed them. we have plans for more to come so keep your eyes peeled. Thanks for the comment.

Macaroni Pudding

At lunch time today, I shared a helping of the macaroni pudding with a friend. We manfully worked through the entire portion, but it was quite a struggle.

Although we didn't particularly enjoy the dish, witnessing the unconventional use of pasta in a dessert really brightened up our meal. This is something we would like to see more of - how about a pudding based on baked potato? Or a sweet lasagne maybe?

CatMan comment Thanks for your feedback. I too had the macaroni pudding and agree that whilst I enjoyed it, it is probably an acquired taste... I'll pass on your suggestions for other off the wall carb pudds.

Chef's Lamb something special

The Chef's special last week (or the week before?) with the lamb, pear, pastry, and onion ring like things was simply AMAZING. For 4.50, or whatever it was, that is the best meal I have had in Cambridge this year. Phenomenal. Congratulations to your chef and the whole catering team. Good work!

Vegetable Burritos

I would just like to say how much I enjoyed the vegetable burritos at dinner today [the 13th of October].

CatMan comment Thanks for the feedback - glad you enjoyed.

The mighty sweet potato

...as a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian and, also, as a lover of the sweet potato, I for one would love to see more of this yummy, orange superfood on the menus for dinner and lunch. (Less so breakfast.)

CatMan comment We do feature sweet potatoes from time to time so keep your eyes peeled. In fact sweet potato mash is featuring on hall menu tonight.

Gammon

Thank you for the excellent gammon today which more than made up for the disappointment of missing out on the special.

CatMan comment Thanks very much for the feedback, always appreciated.

 

More feedback will be added as it is received